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1 killed as Afghan prison violence resumes

Police open fire as gate is stormed; three are wounded

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A spasm of violence broke a fragile truce at Kabul's main prison yesterday as rioting inmates tried to push down a gate and police fired on them, killing one and wounding three, officials said.

Outside the jail, women beat the ground as their children wailed, fearful that loved ones in the facility have been killed in the three-day standoff.

''Oh, my son, are you alive?" cried 60-year-old Zubaida Gul.

At least five inmates have been killed and 41 wounded since the uprising began late Saturday. Police blame some 350 Taliban and Al Qaeda detainees for inciting the riot.

The two sides agreed to a truce late Monday, but the deal collapsed 24 hours later over a demand by the authorities that the inmates move to another wing of the lockup, said Abdul Halik, a police commander in the prison.

The inmates refused, saying conditions in the new block were no better than the current one. They then tried to break down a gate leading into a courtyard where hundreds of police and soldiers have taken up positions, he said.

Security forces opened fire, killing an inmate and wounding three others until the prisoners, armed with knives and clubs, withdrew, the commander said. Dozens of police reinforcements rushed to the prison, but the fighting was over within minutes.

The prisoners have made a range of demands, including a general amnesty for an unspecified number of inmates and new trials for others, according to Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the chief government negotiator.

The earlier truce allowed 17 of the most seriously wounded prisoners to be rushed to a hospital, along with the bodies of the dead, said General Zamarai, the army commander in charge of security at the jail.

Authorities late Sunday cut off supplies of water, electricity, and food to the roughly 2,000 prisoners, including some 70 women and a handful of their children who live with them. But the supplies were restored a day later.

Dozens of relatives of the inmates went to the prison yesterday and pleaded for news of their family members. One woman covered in an all-encompassing burqa kissed the feet of a journalist, begging him for information.

''My son is innocent. We're afraid he is dead," said Zubaida Gul, as tears ran down her face and she beat her fists on the ground in front of a line of guards. ''Please tell me how he is." The guards did not react.

Fighting between US forces and suspected Taliban rebels on Tuesday killed one American service member and wounded two others in southern Afghanistan, the military said.

A military vehicle was damaged by a roadside bomb during the fighting, which left the two wounded service members in stable condition at a nearby base.

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